Cloud development is a very hot topic these days – and for good reason. A cloud-first approach offers various benefits, such as scalability, cost savings, and unprecedented agility. It’s hard for any modern company to say “No” to that. In 2022, 60% of all corporate data was stored in the cloud, and that number is only projected to grow.
But what does it mean to be “cloud-first”, and how do you achieve that? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at cloud-first development and explore some essential tips for embracing the cloud.
What is cloud-first development?
Cloud-first development means you’re putting the cloud at the forefront of your IT decision-making. Instead of being confined to on-premises infrastructure, a cloud-first company uses cloud platforms to create, deploy and manage its applications. That lets you make use of distributed computing and on-demand resource allocation – both invaluable in the current digital landscape.
At its core, putting the cloud first requires a shift in both mindset and way of work. To do it successfully, you need to embrace the operational change cloud computing offers, relying less on your local architecture. There are numerous services, such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS), available to help meet your computing needs.
In the following sections, we’ll delve into critical factors to consider for a successful implementation of a cloud-first strategy.
Key factors to consider for your cloud-first strategy
For all the benefits of a cloud-first approach, it can be a difficult thing to implement. If you want to ensure a smooth transition and derive maximum value from the cloud, there are certain things to consider.
Foster a cloud-first culture
Your strategy’s success largely depends on good collaboration by everyone involved. Cloud-first development can differ from traditional models, and you might need to initiate a cultural shift within the organization.
Let your employees know what you’re going to do and why. Address everyone’s questions and possible concerns. If there are tangible ways cloud migration will make their roles easier, help them understand that. Finally, you could use internal training initiatives to improve employee engagement and help everyone understand the new tools.
Focus on security
A cloud strategy is excellent for a WFH world, giving employees access to data, tools and storage wherever they are.
But it also means employees are accessing the cloud from various locations and possible devices. And in today’s world, many of the threats organizations face are related to the cloud and access to cloud-based resources.
The ability to securely access data and tools from anywhere is critical. You can start by establishing secure remote access and implementing multi-factor authentication. Furthermore, identity and access management, combined with data encryption, will go a long way toward ensuring confidentiality.
Embrace cloud agility
Agility and cloud computing go hand in hand. In a business context, the term “agile” refers to an organization’s ability to roll with changes. Cloud-first development enables that by giving you the tools and versatility to adapt to market conditions.
Don’t be afraid to adjust your organizational structure. The cloud model lends itself well to automation, letting you allocate resources faster. Moreover, between cloud architecture options, serverless computing, and adaptive scaling, this approach grants you unparalleled flexibility.
Cloud-first software solutions
When implementing a cloud-first strategy, choosing the right software for the job is crucial. Cloud development opens up many possibilities, allowing businesses to leverage different tools to optimize software development, deployment and management.
A cloud platform is a computing environment that offers a wide range of tools and services. Cloud platforms can be public and private. A private cloud platform means you own or rent the infrastructure and hardware the services run on. With a public one, you’re using services offered by a specialized provider.
In this article, we’re going to look at the most popular public cloud platforms available.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a leading cloud platform offered by Amazon. With a robust global infrastructure, AWS provides a vast array of services across computing, storage, databases, networking, analytics, machine learning, and more. AWS is known for its scalability, reliability, and extensive service catalogue, making it a popular choice for businesses of all sizes.
Pros of AWS:
- Broad range of services and features
- Global presence with multiple data centres
- Strong emphasis on scalability and high availability
- Extensive third-party integration and ecosystem
- Well-documented resources and community support
Cons of AWS:
- Complexity due to the sheer number of services and options
- Pricing structure can be intricate, requiring careful cost management
- Steeper learning curve for beginners or those unfamiliar with AWS services
Microsoft Azure is a comprehensive cloud platform offered by Microsoft. It provides an extensive set of services for computing, analytics, storage, networking, and more. In addition, Azure supports various programming languages, frameworks, and tools, making it an attractive choice for organizations with existing Microsoft technologies and those seeking seamless integration between on-premises and cloud environments.
Pros of Azure:
- Seamless integration with Microsoft products and services
- Wide range of services and tools for hybrid cloud scenarios
- Strong support for Windows-based workloads and .NET development
- Extensive compliance certifications for industry-specific requirements
- Well-integrated development tools and DevOps capabilities
Cons of Azure:
- Smaller global presence compared to AWS
- Less extensive third-party ecosystem compared to AWS
- Some services may have less maturity or adoption compared to AWS counterparts
Google Cloud Platform
Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is a cloud platform offered by Google. It provides a comprehensive suite of cloud services for computing, storage, machine learning, data analytics, and more. GCP is known for its advanced data analytics capabilities, machine learning tools, and developer-friendly environment.
Pros of GCP:
- Advanced data analytics and machine learning capabilities
- Focus on developer-friendly tools and ease of use
- Robust networking infrastructure and global presence
- Strong integration with other Google services and APIs
- Flexible pricing options, including sustained-use discounts
Cons of GCP:
- Smaller market share compared to AWS and Azure
- Fewer service offerings compared to AWS and Azure
- Less extensive enterprise support and ecosystem compared to AWS and Azure
As you can see, while the platforms are similar, each does excel in specific areas. Therefore, understanding the strengths and considerations of each one is essential in picking the one that fits your requirements and objectives.
A cloud analytics tool is a cloud-based platform that lets you store, organize and analyze data for actionable insights. Let’s explore some of the more popular solutions on the market:
AppOptics is a cloud-based monitoring service with a wide range of features. It can let you monitor apps and infrastructure, gather performance statistics, and consolidate, store and analyze data. It also comes with different bells and whistles, like resource tracking and accessible visualizations. The downside is that there’s so much going on that it takes a while to learn to use.
This real-time analytics solution comes with Azure’s cloud computing platform. Built to run in Azure, it’s only used within that platform. It offers fully managed streaming, making it more accessible and easier to use. It’s also scalable and uses SQL-like language, making it relatively straightforward.
AWS Analytics is a suite of cloud-based analytics services by Amazon Web Services (AWS). It provides a variety of tools and services designed to help you extract insights and make data-driven decisions. In addition, the suite is highly scalable and offers seamless AWS integration.
IBM Cognos Analytics is a business intelligence platform that incorporates AI to enhance data analysis and reporting. It automatically identifies patterns and offers actionable insights through NLP. You can run it in the cloud or on-premises and upload data as spreadsheets or CSV files to the program.
Tips and best practices for cloud adoption
A successful cloud-first strategy depends on multiple factors, such as company scale, size, industry and specific requirements. With that said, there are some best practices you can follow to ensure a smooth transition.
Analyze your requirements and business objectives
Take a close look at your organization’s requirements and business objectives. This analysis will help you understand what you hope to achieve through cloud adoption and guide your decision-making process.
Consider a hybrid cloud model
Not all workloads and data are suitable for rapid migration to the cloud. Evaluate the sensitivity and compatibility of your workloads, as well as any regulatory requirements. Consider adopting a hybrid cloud model, where you can keep sensitive data on-premises while migrating selected applications and processes to the cloud for automation and scalability.
Plan architecture design, security, and compliance
When designing your cloud infrastructure, prioritize security, scalability, and compliance. Plan your architecture to include measures such as data protection, network segmentation, disaster recovery, and high availability. Make sure to comply with industry regulations and standards applicable to your business.
Focus on cost optimization
While the cloud can offer cost savings, it’s essential to manage your expenses effectively. Monitor your resource utilization, take advantage of cost optimization tools provided by cloud providers, and implement efficient resource allocation and scaling strategies. Regularly review and optimize your cloud spending to avoid unnecessary costs.
Establish ongoing monitoring and optimization
To ensure optimal performance and cost efficiency, it’s crucial to have visibility and control over your cloud environment. Implement robust monitoring practices to track resource utilization, identify bottlenecks, and optimize your cloud infrastructure. Continuously monitor your applications and services to proactively address any issues that may arise.
Adopting a cloud-first approach offers numerous benefits and technological benefits. It’s not an easy thing to do, but having a good strategy and using the right tools puts you several steps closer to a successful cloud transformation. And if you’d like some extra help – a custom cloud development partner can make the transition easier for you.